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The [Tuesday] Papers

1. All hail the Wesley Willis Tower.

2. Mental health advocates will picket the city health department on Thursday.

3. If you didn't do political work for the mayor, your job application with the city went in the trash.

4. Is Chicago's Olympic bid going off the rails, or is reality just setting in?

5. Bracketology: Do seeds matter? Not after the Sweet 16, U of I prof says.

6. "In a recent discussion on WVON radio," Don Wycliff writes, "Northeastern Illinois University political scientist Robert Starks observed that the black community has to stand behind the likes of Burris and Cook County Board President Todd Stroger because once such positions are lost to the community, they cannot, as a practical matter, be regained."

Memo to Starks:

A. It's offensive to suggest the black community has to stand behind incompetents for whatever reasons you conjure. It's just plain offensive.

B. Those positions don't belong to a "community" but to the constituents each represents. I happen to believe that the U.S. Senate seat held by Burris ought to remain in African-American hands as long as the rest of the chamber is all-white, but the job is to represent all Illinoisans, and African Americans are certainly capable of that, no?

C. Once lost, they cannot be regained? Supporting Burris may be the surest way for African Americans to lose that seat, as Cate Plys explains. Starks seems to be implying that qualified and competent African Americans are few; I beg to differ. Not any more or less so than whites or anyone else. (Toni Preckwinkle has announced her intention to run for Stroger's seat, just to cite an obvious example.)

7. Billy Corgan has never been about anything other than Billy Corgan. So his latest U-turns about the music business come as no surprise. It's hard to call someone a sell-out whose never been in. Jim DeRogatis takes the case.

"The Great Pumpkin declined an invitation from the Sun-Times to expand on his recent statements," DeRogatis writes. "Via e-mail, he wrote, 'I am loathe from here and ever on to talk about the music business. So honestly I'd rather not comment.'

"Ironically, that statement came about a week after he wrote his first letter to one Congressional subcommittee, and a week before he donned a suit and tie and traveled to Capitol Hill to read another letter to a different committee."

And what was so important to Corgan that he presented himself to two congressional committees? The proposed Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger. Corgan is all for it!

"'The combination of these companies creates powerful tools for an independent artist to reach their fans in new and unprecedented ways, all the while restoring the power where it belongs,' Corgan wrote to the Senate Committee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, which held a hearing on the merger last month. 'This is a new model that puts power into the hands of the artist, creating a dynamic synergy that will inspire great works and attract healthy competition'."

What a wonderful world it will be! Er . . .

"Critics of the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger range from congressmen on both the left and the right to many musicians' rights groups, and they all say that it will result in less competition - the opposite of what Corgan contends - since many acts will be forced to perform with the giant company or forgo touring altogether, as Pearl Jam discovered when it battled Ticketmaster in the mid-'90s," DeRogatis writes.

There's no way this merger will be good for anyone - except the new behemoth that will gouge the hell out of everyone.

"What changed?" DeRogatis asks. "Corgan has now put his career in the hands of super-manager Irving Azoff, who also happens to be the executive running Ticketmaster, and who stands to be one of the top forces in the new company if the merger is approved by the Justice Department.

COMMENT 12:18 P.M.: A Beachwood reader writes:

"Just to clarify, Corgan's testimony to Congress wasn't about the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger, but the Performance Rights Act bill, which is seeking to make terrestrial radio pay royalties to performers (currently only the composer earns royalty) like satellite/cable and web radio are required to do."

REPLY: Yes, thank you. To clarify: Corgan sent a letter to a congressional committee considering the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger, but actually appeared before another committee on the royalty issue.

8. "After a career spent carefully controlling the use of his songs, earlier this year, Corgan and Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin recorded a new tune titled 'FOL' specifically for an ad introducing Hyundai's new Genesis Coupe during the Super Bowl," DeRogatis writes. "And a few weeks ago, he went even further, licensing one of the Pumpkins' signature tracks, 'Today,' for use in a commercial for Visa credit cards."

DeRogatis digs this up from a 2004 Newsweek interview:

"If your music is not sacred to the point where it's a really, really, really heavy decision about whether or not you would allow somebody else to exploit it, then what's not for sale?" Corgan said. "'Today,' which ended up being a pretty big song - that song literally saved my life. I was completely suicidal, and I wrote that song in a cold bedroom on a day where it was like, 'I'm either going to kill myself today, or I'm going to live because I'm sick of thinking about this.' When I played it, it was an intense, extreme feeling. Last year, I was offered heavy, heavy money to license that song. I actually turned down two huge, huge, seven-figure-plus deals last year for two songs."

Maybe Corgan thinks that VISA can save your life too.

9. Finally, DeRogatis makes a point that I recently made about U2: "The tragedy is that this one-time visionary and skilled reader of the cultural zeitgeist, having established one of the most successful careers of his generation, is in the perfect position to test a truly independent new model."


10. I'm outraged too about the $165 million in bonuses to AIG executives, but tell me again then - and I know the analogy isn't perfect - but tell me again why I shouldn't be outraged over the $7.7 billion for 8,570 earmarks in the president's budget.


"Seniority reigns on Capitol Hill, particularly during the scramble for earmark money," Kristen McQueary writes. "A research study on dog poop - if sponsored by the right congressman - is likely to get a greater share of funding than an unemployment training center with the unfortunate distinction of residing in a low-priority congressional district.

"That's the problem. Projects are not weighed holistically, nationally. There is no formulaic distribution of the money.

"Former Illinois U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald once described the system as legalized bribery. Lobbyists often reward politicians with a campaign donation, once their pet project gets inked into an earmark bill.

"Fitzgerald called for a prohibition on campaign donations from any entity benefitting from an earmark.

"You can guess how far that idea went - from Fitzgerald's mouth straight to the abyss."

11. "[T]he first lesson for all 11 million Spanish-speaking illegal immigrants is that the nation of your dreams is not mistreating you more than it has most previous arrivals," writes our very own David Rutter in The Lords of Ireland. "It mistreats almost everyone this way in the beginning."

12. Junior's Peotone Push.

13. Amazingly, this job also offers medical.

14. I haven't been able to keep up our already sparse Books section the last month or so; I do have an idea for how I'd like to do this section if someone is interested in taking it for themselves and running with it. If that person is you, please drop me a note.

15. Westinghouse Elevator in the Carbide Building


The Beachwood Tip Line: Capacity 2,500 lbs.


Posted on March 17, 2009

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike Settled.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Come On, Vic!

BOOKS - Chicago Book Haul: The Dial.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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